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Like Mother, Like Daughter
a blog by Suzanne Rico, January 2, 2013
A couple of months ago I read an article that suggested that a mother’s age at menopause may predict her daughter’s fertility. “Finally!” I thought, “An explanation for the years I couldn't get knocked up!” I called my mom immediately.
“What age did you start menopause?” I asked, sure she had night sweats and mood swings at the age of forty. I was wrong.
“Fifty-two,” she responded. Smack dab in the middle of the normal range.
Even though it seems my mom is not to blame for my baby troubles, family history is important when trying to crack the fertility code. The study I mention above tested over five-hundred Danish women’s anti-mullerian hormone (AMH) levels and antral follicle counts (AFC), showing that a woman’s fertility declined faster if her mother had an early menopause (defined as younger than thirty-five). So be sure you know these family factoids. Another thing to ask your mom is how easily she got pregnant.
“It took me nine-months with Steph (my older sister),” said my mom. Lucky duck! I thought. “And with you,” she continued, “I got pregnant the first month we tried.” Mom wasn’t bragging, but it was like she was speaking a language I could not understand.
Doctors agree that ovarian reserve (the number of eggs remaining in a woman’s ovaries as she ages) can be influenced by hereditary factors. Family history is one piece of an intricate puzzle, and the more pieces—the more you can rule in or rule out as explanations for infertility—the better the chance that your doctor can put them all together.
Knowledge is power," advises Denise Cassidenti, M.D., of Reproductive Partners Medical Group. "More information about the patient or her family history is helpful in trying to determine the cause(s) of her infertility. It is only after looking at the whole picture that we can come up with a treatment plan that is best for each individual patient."
Clearly, a chat with mom won't always shed light on why your fertility isn't perfect, but it always made me feel more hopeful that one day I'd be somebody's mother too.
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